One friend who lost her job told me she couldn’t really face the world just now. She wanted to hide from decisions on what to do next or where the money needed to support her family would come from. So what did she do? Take to her bed with a stack of crime fiction.
Perfect. In an age when malefactors abscond with millions stolen from charity while hard-working souls get laid off, why not escape into the world of crime fiction? In that world criminals get their comeuppance and the innocent triumph. As we turn the pages, we move from balance to disequilibrium and back to balance. Ah, if 2009 America (and Canada and the U.K.) were only that simple.
Not only can a piece of good crime fiction provide the escape we need, it can do so for almost nothing. I sold books at the LA Book Festival alongside my friend Cara Black, who writes the bestselling (and terrific) Aimée Leduc series. She’d say to passersby, “Do you want to go to Paris for $13?” What a pitch in these depressed times!
So bookstores must be chock-full of eager readers, right? Judging from a few recent conversations with bookstore proprietors here in the Bay Area, I don’t think so. They're complaining about the business lassitude like the rest of us. Here’s my real question then: Why aren’t crime fiction sales picking up during this Great Depression II?
P.S. A version of this post also appeared on the Inkspot blog.